- Published on Wednesday, 25 May 2011 03:43 James Hatch
1/72 Boulton Paul Balliol T.2 and Sea Balliol T.21
Catalogue #’s 7202 & 7203 respectively
Available from A2Zee Models for £33.00 each
The Boulton Paul Balliol was designed to an Air Ministry specification for a three seat trainer, powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine, with the third crew place being that of an observer. The initial spec called for a turboprop engine, but this was changed, and the third prototype Balliol was specifically intended for the last Air Ministry requirements. First flying in 1948, the prototype was now reduced to a two seat machine to meet requirements. The Balliol entered service in 1950, and due to the changing requirements of the times, was replaced in 1957 by the jet-powered De Havilland Vampire.
Some Balliol’s were built as Sea Balliols, with a T.21 designation, and fitted with an arrestor hook. This incarnation remained in service until the early 1960’s, until they were replaced also. The Balliol was mostly in service with the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm, but a number of T.2’s served with the Royal Ceylon Air Force.
The Alley Cat kit is presented in the usual sturdy top-opening cardboard box, with a label on the lid depicting the purchased version. Inside, five zip-lock bags contain the majority of parts, and a bubble-pack envelope contains the fuselage halves. A single decal sheet, etch fret and a two page instruction sheet are included, as well as sheets containing paint schemes. Canopy masks are also included.
The Balliol is cast in the same mid-grey resin that I have seen in other Alley Cat sets. This resin holds the finer detail very well, and is easy to work with a knife, and sands easily. The fuselage is cast as halves, unlike the recent Tucano kit, and overall casting is very good. Both halves will benefit though from having most of the small excess resin ‘jags’ along the mating surfaces removed, and then the whole mating face drawn over some Wet ‘n Dry paper until they are perfectly flat. In all, this will take no more than 30 minutes to accomplish, and for test, this is what I did with the parts you see in the pictures. This way, I could check the fit these critical parts. The cockpit has a thin web of resin covering this recess, and will need to be removed. This is here as part of the casting process, and again, I have removed this for the review. In all, these parts are very, very good in both quality of casting and detail. Panel lines are very finely engraved, and the cockpit interior has the walls thinned neatly and then detailed with former and stringer detail too! Very impressive for 1/72. No locating pins exist to locate these halves, so be careful when the time comes to join them.
One packet inside each kit is labelled with the specific inboard wing parts for that that version. There are some subtle changes to these, with stiffening plates for the T.21 being the obvious ones for me. For the purpose of this review, you will need to know that Alley Cat DO include all the other various parts in both kit sets, irrespective of the version you buy, so in the case of building the T.2, you will have a few Sea Balliol parts left over from your build.
The inboard wing parts are cast with integral wheel wells, and the wing fold area is neatly represented. Again, engraving is neat and refined, and the casting blocks are so designed so that there is minimum interference on the edge of areas with joint faces. Out of my two sets, the T.2 inboard parts looked a little ‘mottled’ in their grey colour, but the resin surface was contemporary with the rest of the kit quality, so no worries were to be had. A couple of small, shallow pin-like bubbles exist and these will need to be filled with Milliput or similar.
Another bag of resin contains the outboard wing parts, chin radiator cowl, vertical fin with integral rudder, and the horizontal tail surfaces with integral elevators. Panel line detail is commensurate with other parts, and the wing sections line up neatly with the inboard sections in terms of fit and panel lines. There are some recesses on the outboard wing parts to accommodate the clear resin leading edge lights, wingtip lights, and navigational light. The cockpit floor is included within this bag, and is equally as well designed and cast. There is a small fillet of resin below the bar onto which the seats will locate, and it looks like this should be removed. Again, casting blocks aren’t obtrusive and will be easy to remove in every instance. No casting flaws can be seen anywhere.
The small and more fragile parts are bagged separately. These include the instrument panel, wheels, seats, spinner, vertical tailfin fuselage fairing and various cockpit consoles etc. A number of parts have shared casting blocks, again, with minimal contact points. The seats are absolutely exquisite. Yes, they are simple, but beautifully cast. No seatbelts are moulded on as these will be added from the photo-etch fret. More on that soon. The instrument panel is very well engineered and the instruments are given as recessed holes. Whilst this isn’t exactly representative of the Balliol, this solution does work very well, and will look good with some Micro Crystal Clear added to these to represent instrument glass. Wheels aren’t weighted, so you will have to add subtle flats to make them sit accurately.
The cockpit is actually very well detailed, with a mixture of resin, white metal and photo-etch. It certainly doesn’t disappoint in this release.
A final bag of resin contains the eight clear parts. All canopy sections are individually cast so the canopy may be displayed open. The canopy parts are beautifully thin. In fact, these are some of the thinnest canopy parts I’ve ever seen, and as a result, are very flexible, so be careful when removing the basting blocks. The blocks themselves have a dead-zone down which you can cut to remove the block. Trimming these parts will then be very easy. Frame detail is very crisp and well defined. Other clear parts are for the various lights I mentioned earlier. Again, all are superbly cast, and clarity is good. They would still benefit from a dip in Klear/Future to aid clarity. My photos show them slightly milky, but I assure you that they aren’t so, and that these parts are very good.
The last bag in this kit contains various white metal parts. These parts include the cockpit roll cage, exhausts, undercarriage, propeller blades and tail wheel etc. All parts are well cast with no flash. Just a little polishing will be required before use. The prop blades will need to be shortened for the T.21 version. Detail regarding this is included on the instructions. The exhausts do have slightly hollowed pipes, again, very delicately cast.
A small photo etch fret contains 2 seatbelts, windscreen wipers, rudder pedal assemblies, chin radiator flaps, undercarriage doors and various other items such as control horns etc. Etching is crisp and precise, and some care will be needed when handing some of these extremely small parts.
Instructions are given in written form on one sheet, and pictorially on another sheet. Directions and drawings are both clear and unambiguous, with various constructional areas shown in separate illustration, such as the arrestor hook assembly and cockpit assembly. This instruction sheet is also generic to both the T.2 and T.21 kits, so you will have to follow any drawing notation for your specific version. Colour scheme sheets are printed in colour and decal/stencil notation is easy to follow.
Decal sheets for both kits are extremely well printed and in perfect register. Colour is both solid and accurate, and carrier film is kept to a minimum on all decals. The decals are also nice and thin, and being printed by Fantasy Printshop, you know they will be of a very high quality. A good number of stencils are also included.
Colour schemes given are as follows:
Boulton Paul Balliol T.2
- Balliol T.2, VR592, RAF Air Race Entry
- Balliol T.2, W213, 3/4 CAACU, 1958
- Balliol T.2, WN138, 238OCU
- Balliol T.2, WN507, RAF College
- Balliol T.2, CA310, Ceylon Air Force
- Valliol T.2, G-ANSF, Boulton Paul demonstrator, 1955
Boulton Paul Sea Balliol T.21
- Sea Balliol T.21, WL716, Junior Officers Air Course
- Sea Balliol T.21, WL717, 727 Naval Air Squadron
- Sea Balliol T.21, WL732, RAF Museum, Cosford
- Sea Balliol T.21, WP325, Abbotsinch, 1961
- Sea Balliol T.21, WP327, 1831 NAS RNVR Stretton, 1956
- Sea Balliol T.21, WP328, MTPS Abbotsinch, 1962
A small sheet of canopy masks is included, and this has masks for both the inside and outside glazings! That is a great tough, especially if you want to pose the canopy open. Enough material is included to mask the other clear areas during the painting phase also.
So what do we think?
There is no doubt that this is a well-researched and high quality resin model kit. The model has been researched by Les Whitehouse, an expert on Boulton Paul aircraft who is also helping with a Balliol restoration. There are a couple of small quality issues with the inboard wing parts on one kit, but nothing that the average modeller couldn’t put right with a sanding sponge and a coat of primer, rubbed back. The detail on this kit is quite amazing, and will provide a building experience which will certainly take longer than the average model of this scale, to complete. Highly Recommended.
Our sincere thanks to Alley Cat for the review sample. To purchase these kits directly, click THIS link.